A wrongful death lawsuit is an action brought by the survivors of a deceased person. Under California Law, a survivor can bring a legal action when “the death of a person was caused by the wrongful act or neglect of another.” Thus, a wrongful death case is one where a survivor is suing the person or parties responsible for the death. For a discussion on who can file a wrongful death lawsuit click here.
The key point in understanding damages related to a wrongful death case, is that the damages focus upon the harm and loss experienced by the family member and not the harm experienced by the deceased. Thus, the damages awardable for a wrongful death case are calculated only based on the impact of the death on the family member.
In the event of a wrongful death, the following damages are available to the survivor:
Compensatory Damages: Compensable damages are damages which are related to the loss actually suffered and the loss which a person is likely to suffer in the future as a result of the death. Think of compensatory damages as what you lost. These damages can be measured in a monetary value. Under compensable damages are a number of sub-categories which a family member may be able to recover.
Direct Pecuniary Loss: Direct pecuniary loss refers to the tangible monetary loss as a result of the death. These loses are easily quantifiable because you can calculate or find the exact cost. Some examples of direct pecuniary loss would include the following:
- Lost wages/income
- Lost future wages/income
- Medical bills related to the death
- Loss of a future inheritance
Loss of Contributions and Services: A surviving family member can recover for contributions and services they would have received had the deceased lived to their full life expectancy. Examples of these awards include; child support, alimony, and the lost value of housework. A child with a deceased parent can also recover for the loss of the advice and guidance of that deceased parent.
Loss of Love/Companionship: A surviving family member can also recover for loss of love, companionship, comfort, affection, society, solace or moral support, any loss of enjoyment of sexual relations, or any loss of her physical assistance in the operation or maintenance of the home. This is often the most significant item of damages in a wrongful death lawsuit.
Funeral Expenses: A surviving family member can recover “reasonable” expenses related to burial and funeral services. In the event that the funeral services were paid out of the estate of the person who passed away, then those costs are also recoverable.
The San Diego wrongful death attorneys at Martinez & Schill LLP understand how devastating it can be for families that have lost a loved one due to another’s negligence or wrongdoing. We can assist you understand your legal options if a loved one has been the victim of a wrongful death. Please call our San Diego office at (619) 512-5995 or our Riverside office (951) 200-4630 to discuss your case with a compassionate and experienced wrongful death lawyer. We offer free consultations and don’t get paid until we recover compensation for you. Contact our office today.